Murder suspect blames caffeine induced insanity www.privateofficer.com
NEWPORT KY July 12 2010 – A lawyer for Woody Smith claims the man strangled his wife during a caffeine-induced bout of insanity.
Defense lawyer Shannon Sexton’s request to show jurors caffeine-laced diet pills and the energy drink No Fear has caused the trial to be delayed. Instead of starting Monday, it will begin Aug. 30 before Campbell Circuit Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward.
Prosecutors want time to test the chemical makeup of the pills and drinks that were given to investigators only four days ago. Smith’s parents collected the items from their son’s home and car after police searched each place, Sexton said.
“The jury is left to assume that the pills inside the bottles are the same substance as is written on the label – this is not an acceptable leap in a criminal trial,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Michelle Snodgrass said.
She argued that if the pills and drinks are introduced – something she opposes – their scientific composition should at the very least be required.
The fact that the pills allegedly came from Smith’s home and car doesn’t mean he was under their influence when he killed Amanda Hornsby-Smith, Snodgrass said.
Smith faces up to life in prison if found guilty of murder for using an extension cord to strangle his 28-year-old wife in May 2009 in the couple’s Dayton home.
Snodgrass even questioned where the pills and drinks came from since investigators do not recall seeing them during at least two searches of the residence and impoundment of the car.
“It is just as likely that the pills came from GNC, from Wal-Mart, the Internet, or the defendant’s parents’ home,” Snodgrass said.
Sexton appears to want the items introduced to support a mental-health defense.
A psychological evaluation by the defense concluded that Smith was not criminally responsible for the killing. Psychologist Robert Noelker of Williamstown said Smith suffered from a brief psychotic disorder based on lack of sleep caused by consumption of high levels of caffeine, Ephedra or amphetamine-type substances.
Noelker’s diagnosis was based on Smith’s claims he consumed the pills and drinks in the days leading up to the killing.
The prosecution is prepared to call its own expert witness to say there is no evidence to support Smith’s claims he took the substances. Smith tested negative for any amphetamine-type substances in the hours after the killing, Snodgrass said.
An autopsy report, however, shows the substances were present in Hornsby-Smith’s body.
“For all we know, the diet pills could have been hers,” Snodgrass said.
Sexton said Smith was consuming the pills and drinks to avoid falling asleep because he feared his wife would leave him during the night and take their two children. Smith thought his wife was having an affair, according to court records.
Smith went so far as to ask his stepfather if he could have his children implanted with computer chips as a way of tracking them, according to court records.
“This dissociative belief and intense paranoid delusions are the direct result of the ingestion of large amounts of caffeine and diet pills,” Noelker wrote in his report.
He said his conclusion is supported by an extensive amount of clinical and research literature of the effects of sleeplessness on cognition, memory, judgment and insight.
“Mr. Smith was exquisitely vulnerable to development of the brief psychosis given his sleep deprivation and the cognitive effects brought about by Ephedra, caffeine, and other diet aids that he ingested in the two- to four-week period prior to the lethal assault of his wife,” Noelker wrote.
Sexton moved to introduce the pills and drinks after he failed to get Smith’s confession thrown out of court. Sexton claimed his client was intoxicated and did not understand his Miranda rights.
After Hornsby-Smith’s body was found, Smith was rushed to an area hospital for a possible overdose. He told nurses that he was there “because he strangled his wife,” according to court records.